“How would you get more people who aren’t eating butter to eat butter?”

Sixty-five UC Berkeley grad students puzzled over this light-hearted question as they vied for just 25 slots in the public health innovations course Eat.Think.Design. Course instructor Jaspal Sandhu likens this class audition to putting together a team or theatrical production and finding “a cohort that will work together in interesting ways.” Butter Day also gave students a taste of design thinking as they brainstormed various angles on butter consumption, including the recent McDonald’s decision to start using butter in its Egg McMuffin.

Once selected for Eat.Think.Design, students spent the semester exploring design thinking (also called human-centered design) to devise solutions for quandaries related to nutrition, food, and farming. This year’s class tackled seven projects that took them from East Oakland down to Monterey County, and across the country to Brownsville, New York. In teams of three or four, students representing 12 graduate programs grappled with issues involving home cooks, farmers, middle schoolers, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and more. Each team’s mission was the same: Find solutions that stick.

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